Climbing Competition: Passion for Flashin’ 2011

Saturday was the Passion for Flashin’ competition.

A day after this competition, I am very introspective. I’ve been climbing for about 2.5 years now, and this was the second time I’ve competed. The first was in December. In that first competition I competed in the Intermediate category and felt like I was competitive. I had a good time, but also walked away feeling like I could have pushed myself by climbing some more difficult routes.

This competition was a bit different. I signed up in the Advanced category, knowing that I would be at the bottom end of the scale, but also feeling as though Intermediate wouldn’t challenge me enough. Intermediate was rated at 5.8-5.9+, and Advanced was 5.10a-5.10d. I’m consistently climbing in the 10a-10b range, so I chose Advanced.

Although I’ve been climbing a lot, I’ve been in a weird mental space and my focus while training hasn’t been stellar. So I walked into the comp feeling very nervous and a little off my game.

I started on the low end of the card to get warmed up. The first few routes went well; I was feeling good. Then I went to some of the higher-point routes on my list and started falling off. The frustration mounted, and I had to take a break to get my head back together. I struggled with frustration for the rest of the time.

I went in expecting that competing in the Advanced category would suddenly make me climb a few notches above normal. Not a very fair expectation.

I haven’t seen the results yet, but I know that I wasn’t competitive in my category. And that is ok, because I walked away having learned a lot, and there is great value in that.

Lessons learned from this comp:

  • Self-honesty is important. I knew when I signed up that I’d be in the bottom tier of my category, yet I felt frustrated when I was falling off routes.
  • My training needs to be more focused. I need to push myself harder and climb more routes that I fall off. I’m pretty sure I said this last time, too.
  • A lot of the game is in my head. I have myself firmly placed in a 5.9 box. If I believe that I’m a 5.9 climber and no better, then I’m going to climb 5.9s and not push myself on the harder stuff. Being honest about my climbing ability means not short-changing myself as well as not over inflating. It goes both ways.
  • I am a way better boulderer than I give myself credit for. I walked in thinking I’d avoid the bouldering routes altogether, and walked out feeling like those were my best climbs of the day. Awesome.
  • I love climbing in comps.

That last statement surprises me after yesterday’s disappointment, but it’s the truth. I think the process fits really well with my personality. I do really well with specific goals, and having a competition to train for is really great for my climbing overall. I’m climbing well above where I was 4 months ago when I made the decision to compete. I enjoy figuring out the strategy at the actual comp (which I haven’t completely figured out yet). It’s really good for my route-reading skills, and it keeps me climbing on days when I’m feeling a bit *ugh* about getting off my butt.

I live in Minnesota. We have some good outdoor climbing nearby, but much of my climbing happens in the gym, on plastic. I love getting outdoors, but the truth is I don’t have the opportunity to do it very often. I’m not embarrassed to admit that I enjoy climbing in the gym.

So, I’m going to stay on the crushtrain and head down to Chicago in a couple of weeks to compete once more this season. I have yet to decide if I’ll go Intermediate or Advanced, but I am making it my goal to be competitive in the Advanced category for next year’s comps.

Out of yesterday’s frustration comes a renewed ambition and focus to better my climbing. And I’m pretty excited about it.

10 thoughts on “Climbing Competition: Passion for Flashin’ 2011

  1. Nich

    Great post! It's really interesting to hear about the comps which are happening over in the US. In my area, all the comps seem to be bouldering only (and aimed firmly at the higher grades) which tends to attract the grunting top-off boys! Your reflections reminded me of something I said on an email to a friend a few weeks back after my first go at leading – "Hmm, this is hard and I'm not very good at it – I must do it again". It is interesting to realise you enjoy something and are challenged by it even if you don't perform as you initially hoped. So congratulations on stepping up to the advanced category!

    1. Elizabeth Post author

      Thanks for the comment, Nich! I love your synopsis: “This is hard, I must do it again!” 🙂 That’s totally it! Since the comp was at my home gym, I get to go back tomorrow and try all the routes again. Yay!

      Also, have you talked to your local gym about having some top-rope comps?

  2. Katie

    It seems like you're in a really good place with your climbing, a good mental place. Whether you've pigeon holed yourself or not, you're aware of the fact that telling yourself you're a 5.9 climber limits you, and I can't wait to see what happens when you bust through that limit! Congrats, Eliz 🙂

  3. venturesomekrysia

    I think it is great you pushed yourself and will do it again! I liked what you said about not limiting yourself to being "a good 5.9 climber" because then you will hinder your improvement. I agree! Because you are Not a 5.9 climber!

    A friend of mine always calls me out for that because I will say, no, I can't onsite that, it's a 5.10b and he will say "Forget the rating! Yes you can!" And lo and behold, I'll onsite it!

  4. Elizabeth

    Thanks for the great comments, everyone!

    Katie: I am always astounded at how much of climbing is a mental game, even in a really safe environment like the gym. It always feels good to work through those barriers.

    Krysia: That's awesome, it's so good to be called out on that stuff!

    Bill: I'm with you, no challenge and it just gets boring. 🙂 Ride the crushtrain!!!

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